Coloured Bottles

In an effort to explain the underlying truth of the Universal Worship service, Murshid Hidayat sometimes resorted to the image of various coloured glasses or bottles.  “If you put clear water in glasses of all different colours,” he would say, “in the blue glass it will appear blue, in the red glass red, and so on. But it is the same water.”  From this we could see that the religious ideal is one in its nature, although it has been coloured by different forms and traditions.

It is a metaphor that is simple and easy to follow, although not everyone succeeds in respectfully putting the bottles to one side and imbibing the clear, life-sustaining liquid that rises from the religious impulse like a Divine spring.  Hazrat Inayat Khan relished the devotion in any form of worship, and appreciated the light expressed in every tradition. Many people, though, feel out of place in religious services – estranged sometimes from unfamiliar forms and sometimes from the forms they feel, correctly or not, that they know too well. Blessed indeed is the person who sees the light of the Spirit of Guidance that is present in all names and forms.

Apart from the unity of worship, though, the coloured bottles also have a lesson for our own personal inner journey.  The mystic seeks to touch the essence, whether we call that ‘God’ or ‘Truth’ or some other name.  The Sufi Invocation begins, “Toward the One,” reminding us that there is only One Being, from which it is clear that all divisions and separations are just momentary illusion.  To recognize the state of unity, we must forget our attachments and identifications, even to our own self, and let our consciousness return to the infinite, like a drop falling back into the Ocean.

If we look steadily and patiently into our heart and mind, we inevitably encounter innumerable structures and concepts that clamour for our attention: thoughts, feelings, labels, impressions, beliefs, memories and assumptions.  These are the coloured glasses and bottles referred to in our image, each one with some drops of the Infinite hidden within them. It is only the drops of life and light that confer any value on the bottles, but we overlook the content for the colour and form of the containers.  To discard one, and then another, and then another may give us some clarity, but it is a work that is never completed, for the world of illusion, or maya in the Hindu philosophy, combines and recombines and reflects in infinite variety, like the pieces of coloured glass in a kaleidoscope.  The only salvation is to forget all forms entirely in our love of the One. Remember that love is the all powerful expression of one-ness – we love because we are one with what we love.  

Therefore, when we recognize that our love for the formless One is also the love of the One for us, then we are released from our own captivity and free to fall back into the infinite sea, knowing it as our true home, from which we have never been parted.

4 Replies to “Coloured Bottles”

  1. Sharifa

    Thank you, Nawab, for this beautiful way of ‘connecting the dots’. It inspires me and brings focus.

    All the the best for you and your loved once, with love, Sharifa (The Netherlands)

    • Nawab Pasnak Post author

      Thank you, dear Sharifa, for the response and for the kind wishes. You mention focus, and that is really the key – focus inspired by love.

      With greetings from the heart, Nawab

  2. Amina

    Thankyou Murshid Nawab
    Your message really touched my heart .
    I hope I can sincerely and patiently continue to look into heart and mind and remember that the kaleidoscope will never end but also the Love of the One will also never end .

    • Nawab Pasnak Post author

      Dearest Amina, yes, the Love of the One never ends, and it is the One who rotates the kaleidoscope as well. When the Love is clear to us, then we can appreciate the shifting patterns without being dazzled by them.


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